Canelon keeps Cyclones within striking distance
Tosses Eight-Inning Gem as Brooklyn Climbs Within 2 ½ Games of S.I.
Kevin Canelon flirted with perfection before settling for the most dominant effort by any Brooklyn Cyclones pitcher this summer.
That’s saying something considering how strong the Baby Bums’ entire staff has been throughout the grueling short-season campaign.
“It was definitely the best performance of the season for our staff, which we’ve had a lot of good games this year,” Brooklyn pitching coach Dave LaRoche told MiLB.com shortly after Canelon tossed eight one-hit innings in the Cyclones’ much-needed 3-0 blanking at Hudson Valley Tuesday night in front of 5,199 fans at Dutchess Stadium.
Canelon (5-4), a 21-year-old left-hander out of Caracas, Venezuela, set down the first 10 batters he faced before Joe McCarthy ripped a line drive single in the fourth inning.
Undaunted, Canelon retired the final 14 Renegades batters in order en route to a 10-strikeout, no-walk masterpiece that lowered his staff-best ERA to 3.31 through 12 appearances, including 11 starts, for the playoff-hopeful Cyclones (30-32).
“He was one pitch away from a perfect game through eight, which is pretty amazing,” Laroche added. “He gets more and more confident each time out. I think with the more success he has, the more confidence he gains and he takes the mound with a little more authority.”
All-Star closer Alex Palsha made sure Canelon’s mound heroics didn’t go to waste, tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his 13th save while shaving his ERA to a mind-numbing 0.38.
The victory moved Brooklyn within 2 ½ games of first-place Staten Island (32-29) in the tightly packed McNamara Division race.
It also helped the Cyclones climb within a game of both Hudson Valley and Aberdeen (31-31), who are currently deadlocked for second place.
Of course, the Baby Bums’ league-worst offense had to do its share to stake Canelon to a lead, though, as per usual this season, the runs didn’t come easy.
After being blanked over the first six innings by Hudson Valley starter Benton Moss, the Cyclones finally dented the scoreboard in the seventh.
Facing reliever Tyler Brashears (0-1), All-Star second baseman Vinny Siena sparked the decisive rally with a line-drive single into center field. Siena stole second and scored on Jose Garcia’s RBI base hit to give Canelon all the offense he’d need on a night in which the Renegades managed just a single base-runner.
Brooklyn added two runs in the eighth as Hengelbert Rojas singled and scored on an error before Jeff Diehl delivered an RBI ground-rule double to make it 3-0.
Canelon finished his 94-pitch effort in style, striking out Angel Moreno to start the bottom of the eighth before getting a pair of harmless fly outs to close out the inning.
“We were wondering if he was starting to get tired, but he came back and [got] the guy out, went out and had a solid eighth inning,” LaRoche told MiLB.com. “I wish he had about 10 more pitches to see if he could get three more outs [for the complete game].”
Perhaps saving a few pitches in Canelon’s talented left arm will serve the Cyclones best as they now have only 14 games left to reel in the Yankees, who will visit MCU Park for a regular season-ending three-game series from Sept. 5-7.
Before that epic clash, however, the Cyclones must take care of business against Aberdeen, which arrived in Coney Island Wednesday night to kick off a critical three-game set.
Another capable Brooklyn starter, Gaby Almonte, was slated to take the hill in Wednesday’s series opener.
This, That and the Other Thing: With his 10 strikeouts Tuesday night, Canelon moved into second place in the NY-Penn with 59 on the season. He has also yielded two runs or fewer in seven of his 12 outings this year. … C Garcia went 2-for-3 Wednesday, upping his batting average to .305 through 28 appearances for Brooklyn. … RHP Almonte entered Wednesday night’s scheduled outing having surrendered more than three earned runs just twice in his first 12 starts. … RHP Palsha has converted all but one of his 14 save opportunities this summer, striking out 31 batters in 23 2/3 innings over 21 relief appearances. … Following their three-game set with the IronBirds at MCU Park this week, the Cyclones will embark on a seven-game road trip featuring stops in Tri-City (three games) and Connecticut (four) before finishing up the campaign at home against the Yanks.
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